Whether it’s intentional or not, being late all the time can increase stress and strain your relationships with others. But there are things you can do to get better at time management.
Clinical Psychologist Meredith Fuller says that there are two types of people – those who are organized, “with their life running like clockwork” and the disorganized – “those who live a more chaotic existence.”
While each type of person can theoretically live their life in a healthy way, being disorganized and frequently late can cause more undue stress, pressure, as well as relationship and work issues than those who are more organized with their time.
“It is about how we see time. Often the more ‘disorganized person’, who is often late, has little conception of how long tasks will take and will overfill their day,” she tells us.
Many of these ‘over fillers’ are not intentionally late, but because they simply plan too much to get done in their day.
“This can negatively impact a person’s stress levels because it means they are running catch up constantly, this often means you don’t perform at your best and can become overloaded, a terrible cause of stress,” she explains.
Although there are some people who are late intentionally, something Fuller describes as a “narcissistic tendency”, many people who are late, like the ‘over fillers’, are late unintentionally as a side product of their personality.
“Some people have more ‘go with the flow’ personalities, they appreciate life in the moment more which does have positive outcomes,” she says.
“But despite these, if it means they are regularly late, this still impacts others that are on time and have in turn forgone that pleasure of enjoying the moment themselves to be punctual.”
Regardless of whether it’s intentional, it can still adversely impact on your health and wellbeing, particularly on your relationships with others.
“If you are regularly late you can let people down, some will feel that you cannot be trusted or that they can’t rely on you, it can also make them feel as if you don’t value them and their time causing harm to the relationship,” Fuller explains.
It is particularly harmful to couples.
“Being late is one of the biggest causes of stress between couples,” she says.
“If two late people get together often nothing happens, if two organized people get together, they often miss out on living in the moment, but one of each can help provide a balance.”
As well as the personal front, being late can also prove harmful in a professional setting.
“Most work settings are organized, being disorganized, which includes tardiness, isn’t compatible. Being late won’t help forward your career,” Fuller says.
How to tackle being late
The good news is, for those who want to reform, Fuller suggests some really simple ways for you to do this.
- Understand your body clock. Ask yourself if you are a night owl or a lark and organize your time based on this. For example, if you are a night owl who loves a god sleep in to compensate, don’t organize to meet a friend for breakfast first thing in the morning.
- Set your watch ahead of time to accommodate your lateness.
- Make lists or use a diary to stay organized and tick things off as you go.
- Scale back your to-do list of it is too long, you may be trying to do too much meaning you can’t fit it in.
- Remember everyone’s time is important, not just yours.
- And finally, be kind to yourself and stay in tune with your body because being late can also be a sign of depression, being sick or of being tired which you may need to seek professional help for.